Feminist scholars, such as Joan Acker, have criticized “traditional” stratification research, which has mostly ignored gender altogether (Acker 2006). Crompton 2003 writes that a mere cultural approach to gender inequalities ignoring class is also flawed. Blumberg 1984 argues that economic dimensions of inequality are paramount, as they precede inequalities in other domains. Keister and Southgate 2012 posits that gender is often seen as one dimension of stratification. However, Risman 2004 and McCall 2005 argue for an intersectional approach where gender is analyzed across all dimensions. In addition to questions about which dimensions of inequality are important for stratification, the level at which to examine gender stratification is also a key aspect of scholarly debate. Some scholars compare men and women within couples, others men and women within societies, and West and Zimmerman 1987 makes a compelling argument that gender and, by extension, gender inequality is created in everyday interactions. Nevertheless, Blau, et al. 2006 points out that understanding contextual factors and their interactions with gender within organizational contexts are essential for a holistic understanding of gender stratification.
Acker, Joan. 2006. Class questions: Feminist answers. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
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This book illustrates the importance of and difficulty with integrating class analysis in feminist research. The book makes a strong argument that it is problematic, if not impossible, to examine class properly without also examining gender and race. A foundational work on intersectionality.
Blau, Francine D., Mary C. Brinton, and David B. Grusky, eds. 2006. The declining significance of gender? New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
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This edited volume should be required for all sociology graduate students. Macro-level mechanisms (economics, organization, politics, and culture), shape gender stratification and our perception of gender inequality. All essays show how macro-level mechanisms and individual outcomes are linked and need to be considered jointly.
Blumberg, Rae Lesser. 1984. A general theory of gender stratification. Sociological Theory 2:23–101.
DOI: 10.2307/223343E-mail Citation »
Blumberg’s essay is a challenging read. The key argument is that women’s access to economic resources is crucial to achieving other forms of power. It provides rich anthropology and debunks the idea of inevitability of women’s dependence on male breadwinners.
Crompton, Rosemary. 2003. Class and gender beyond the “cultural turn.” Sociological Problemas e Practicas 42:9–24.
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Crompton provides a summary of the conflicts between economically oriented “class” research and the “normative/cultural” approach underlying gender research. She argues that a class orientation is crucial in gender research and should not be merely replaced by a new focus on sexuality.
Keister, Lisa A., and Darby E. Southgate. 2012. Inequality: A contemporary approach to race, class, and gender. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
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This textbook’s review of basic theoretical and empirical approaches to stratification research can serve as a primer before students move to understand the other readings included in this entry. Their discussion of the persistence of gender inequality in education, paid work, and within families is very accessible.
McCall, Leslie. 2005. The complexity of intersectionality. Signs 30:1771–1800.
DOI: 10.1086/426800E-mail Citation »
This is a classic work discussing the importance and challenges of intersectionality. This is not an “easy” read; rather, it is suitable for researchers seeking an understanding of different approaches for examining intersectional gender inequality. McCall’s is an appropriate text for advanced contemporary theory seminars.
Risman, Barbara. 2004. Gender as social structure. Gender & Society 18:429–450.
DOI: 10.1177/0891243204265349E-mail Citation »
Gender is more than one aspect along that we can measure inequalities. Risman suggests that an intersectional approach to studying inequalities that takes into account that individuals’ self-perceptions are nested within interactions, which themselves are nested in institutional settings. This is a must-read for anyone who examines gender inequality at any level.
West, Candace, and Don H. Zimmerman. 1987. Doing gender. Gender & Society 1:125–151.
DOI: 10.1177/0891243287001002002E-mail Citation »
This very influential article advances a new way of understanding how gender stratification is produced in everyday social interaction. This paper can be thought-provoking even for advanced undergraduates and illuminates how actions and interactions may be at the core of the persistence of gender inequalities at all levels.
Gender Inequality According To Functionalist And Marxist Feminist Perspective
Contrary to popular believe, gender is referred to the attitudes, behaviours and emotions linked with a specific sexual group. There are two dominant perspectives that illustrate two different viewpoints of gender inequality. The functionalist perspective, by Talcott Parsons, believed that both men and women possess specific qualities that make them excellent at specific events, and these qualities are not interchangeable (Brym, 2014). The Marxist-Feminist perspective; however, viewed qualities for men and women as to being dependent on social conditions rather than being inherited (2014). In order to further illustrate the presence of gender inequality in the present society; the film Missrepresentation, by Jennifer Newsom reveals the lack of female presence in lead or authoritative roles in media, in comparison to men (Newsom, 2011).
The film Missrepresentation, by Jennifer Newsom, is about the underrepresentation of women by the media (2011). The film challenges the viewpoints of media that are constantly depicting females as to being dependent on males. Furthermore, even when females are displayed as lead characters, the plot will ensure that their life’s will surround the life of a male. Examples of these include, a lead female falling in love with her “prince charming” as he saved her from great dangers. We rarely see a female character saving a male in the media (2011). According to the film the media continues to encourage the ideology that a women’s power is associated with her youth, beauty and sexuality, instead of her knowledge and intelligence (2011). The film also provides starling statistics, for instance by the age to 18 78% of females are unhappy with how the look. Also of the 8 million people with eating disorder 7 million are girls. The number of cosmetic surgeries has tripled from 1997 to 2007. In 2011 only 11% of females were protagonists in films. Only 5.8% of TV stations are owned by females (2011). These statistics continue to tilt in favour of males, as each day passes by.
The first of the two dominant perspectives is the functionalist perspective on gender. The functionalists including Talcott Parsons, an American sociologist, believe in the ideal nuclear family. The father in the family is suppose to work and be the income source for the household, whereas the mother is responsible for raising the children and managing the household (Brym, 2014). Thus according to this, males and females have a social conformity that is passed down from one generation to another. Moreover, masculinity is linked with instrumental traits and femininity is associated with expressive traits. For example, male should be strong, protective, dominant and providers where as females are sensitive, weak, dependant and focused on their appearance (2014). In the film, this is the dominant view of the media (Newsom, 2011). Shows like 2 and the half men that display women as recyclable objects or news anchors who are thought to be able to attract...
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